Hello folks, did you enjoy the spring interlude with loads of sunshine? It's all gone away now, and we're back to dreary old Britain, but I haven't lost hope that the sun will be back. I hope you're all working from home busily and making the best of the situation.
I'm missing having people around, cooking for friends, barbeques in the sunshine - I didn't know that I would hanker for these as I'm a fairly quiet person - gimme a few beads and I'm happy to spend a weekend playing with them. I guess you want the stuff that someone else tells you that you cannot have.
The weather has played ball through May and I hope it will continue and as soon as I'm able, I shall have a party, all of you are invited!!
The Creative Hope Jewelry Project
The Creative Hope Jewelry Project, set up by Holly Gage, a Metal Clay Artist par excellence, was designed to be an uplifting expression of hope during a time of unrest during the world Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, and Stay at Home orders. Meant to serve as a source of inspiration for the creators and viewers of the Creative Hope Jewelry Project Challenge and Virtual Exhibit, it called for jewellery makers of all genres to exhibit virtually on their platform.
Holly said "From a historical perspective, jewelry expresses the activities, social movements, and events of the time. If you take a deeper look, you will notice there are underlining statements, cues and messages telling us about what was happening during that time period. This exhibit serves to allow artists to express their feelings, thoughts and hopes during a time of sacrifice and challenge all around us during the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020.
This Virtual Exhibit is intended to be far reaching to inspire many, therefore PR distribution will be to social and media outlets across many platforms.
The challenge awards will be determined by popular community vote looking for artworks demonstrating a high degree of:
I decided to make a piece of jewellery especially for the contest, and once it was finished and sold, to donate the proceeds to the NHS. The necklace was called Hope Springs Eternal and you saw it first on these pages. It was snapped up by a lady in the USA and she was delighted with it - I've posted her feedback, which warmed the cockles of my heart. By the way, if anyone knows what the cockles of the heart are, do let me know - I haven't a clue, but it sounds good.
I submitted my piece into the intermediate category as I have only been beading for the last couple of years and am by no means an expert.
The contest is open to voters till the end of the day on 5/6/2020, so if any of you are reading this and fancy putting a quick 'like' on my piece should you be so inclined, you will find it here. Holly has spent some time making a video compilation of the pieces in each category and here it is.
I decided I wanted to make another piece that sits close to the neck. I found a dichroic glass cabochon and I just loved the markings on it - it reminds me of fire or molten lava. The cabochon is not smooth, but has a slightly irregular surface and is all the more interesting for it. I decided to make a torch of flames shooting from the cabochon. I have an idea where I'm going, and I'll tell you more about it next week.
I apologise for the quality of the pictures, but I just snap a quick shot of the piece at the end of each day with my phone before I go to bed. At the end of Day 5 I have a clear idea of how I want this piece to look at the end. Now all I've got to do is to fill the rest of the space that is just now blank - I've finished putting in the flames and the other side will be entirely different. You'll just have to come back next week to take a look if my design idea has worked out.
That's me done for this week, folks. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Folks in the ether reading this, welcome to the Caprilicious Blog.
It's lovely to make contact with you again. The weather has been wonderful here in the UK and it is so nice and warm and sunny I almost feel the need to hold my breath in case it's a mirage and disappears, replaced by drab, drab drab!
I hope you are all doing well and not finding spurious reasons to drive to the nearest beauty spot - remember, if you find that you're going blind, that is certainly not the time to put your wife and child in a car and take them for a drive - unless you're in a black comedy kinda life! (For those who are reading this from outside the UK, this is an insider joke and you can read about it and join in the laughter if you Google the words Dominic Cummings and Barnard Castle.)
Last week I was just putting in the eye in my Hamsa as I wrote the blog post, and I told you all about its symbolism. Since then I put in some colourful beadwork around the eye, and a lotus above it. The lotus symbolises spiritual enlightenment and rebirth. Much is made of the fact that the plant grows in murky water, and yet gives forth a beautiful flower. The Secret Meaning of the Lotus Flower tells us more about this issue. Crystal and beaded fingernails, paisley and chevron patterns were added, the Hamsa padded out with felt, backed with ultra suede and edged. And then, all of a sudden it was finished!
I almost felt a sense of loss when the last bead was put in, as if an old friend had left and gone away. I would have to perforce, put it away - and eventually send it to a good home.
Eye Protect - a Hamsa Necklace
And then, how to hang it? One lady suggested citrine and pyrite - 'for prosperity,' she said. However, I decided that this was a playful piece and deserved a playful, colourful necklace to carry it. Frosted amethyst beads that appear like blue grapes with a bloom on them and are very pleasing to touch - they have a soft rasp to them - contrasting shiny carnelian rice beads and a couple of hand made fire polished Czech glass beads that I ran up - the packet of glowing, purple glass beads had been sitting on my work surface for the whole time and I thought it would be rude not to include them.
A protective amulet then, in difficult times. The amethyst is thought to bring peace of mind and calm and the carnelian brings vitality, warmth of spirit and prevents illness.
Fin! Finito! Well not quite, as the necklace still had to be photographed, the pictures edited, a blurb written and the whole thing posted on the website. And since then, I've sat out in the sunshine with the hubby and the cat, doing absolutely nothing during the Bank Holiday weekend. 'Hope Springs Eternal' was sold to a lady from Maryland a couple of days ago, and will be on its way later today.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a lovely week in the sun and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, it's lovely to connect with you again. The sun is shining, the garden is blossoming and the birds - well the birds have procreated and are doing unspeakable things all over our cars and making a nuisance of themselves, especially the pigeons.
The world is settling into an uneasy new equilibrium and no one knows what comes next. There are fierce pitched battles between the two opposing factions - those who think it's just another flu and we should get back to work, and those who run around flapping their hands hysterically, swallowing large quantities of Vitamin C and zinc, chloroquine and azithromycin. I think it's best to keep a weather eye on developments, but plod on, trying to keep it together while taking as much care as I can.
I entered 'Hope Springs Eternal' into the Creative Hope Jewelry Project and decided that I would donate the proceeds from the necklace to the NHS. It is now on the website and I will put it up for auction at a dinner dance planned in October and hand the money over.
This week, I planned a Hamsa pendant - I've written about the Hamsa in a previous blog post and I'll tell you a bit more as I go along. I researched designs thoroughly for a couple of days before deciding that the project was a goer. The plan is to make a Hamsa pendant and then find a way to hang it - I could just hang it on a beaded necklace, or could make a choker to carry it. Will it eventually be a single pendant, or part of a totem? The possibilities are endless and I had to take the plunge and get on with it - this was my original sketch and you can tell that drawing is not my forte. Oh well, we're all friends here, so I don't feel embarrassed to display my lack of talent.
I had a piece of orange 'stiff stuff' left over from the last necklace I made and didn't want to waste it. I had to cover it with blue velvet as I didn't want the orange to peek out between the beads. The palm and fingers were outlined with diamante cup chain and I was ready to embellish it to my hearts content.
An eye was embroidered onto the palm - It would appear that there are two types of Hamsas - one with an eye and the other without, the former is a symbol that wards away evil and the latter a mere good luck charm.
The Hamsa with the eye symbolises protection. It is believed that the eye will watch over you and scare away evil.
I thought, 'in for a penny...Let's go the whole hog, belt and braces,' and proceeded to put in the eye.
The evil eye is a curse or legend believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. Talismans or amulets are created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called "evil eyes" and if you've been a tourist in some parts of Europe or the middle east you will have one of them somewhere in your souvenir collection - you can't get away from them in the markets and bazaars.
As a child, growing up in India I came across the 'evil eye' phenomenon - Just about anything that went wrong was blamed on the power of the evil eye. My grandmother worried when we got sick, or 'lost' our homework once too often and attracted a scolding from school (miss, the dog ate it) - if we were bad, she worried that someone's evil eye had got us and if we were good and were praised excessively, which was rare, she worried even more that some jealous,malevolent spirit would cast it's evil eye on us out of spite and cause problems for us. Poor grandma, she was one worried lady. To get over herself, she would sit us children down in a row, grab some sticks out of a broom made from a palm frond, light the end with a match and mutter incantations over it while making circles with the fire over us. She'd then put the sticks behind a door and spit three times in its general direction - and the fire - oh! It crackled and spat, and we knew that each crackle, the louder the better, was a spell she had got rid of single handedly! Our hero!
One summer holiday, we'd been particularly naughty, and after a spate of bollockings my cousin and I decided to get rid of the evil eye we were sure had cast a spell on us - we found a palm frond, but instead of pulling off a handful of sticks, we lit the whole thing, saying the spell out loud and dancing around it in the knowledge that we were about to go with impunity once the evil eye had been dispelled. Fortunately the gardener was around as was the hose, or the bonfire we made would have caused major problems. Needless to say the evil eye stayed with us the whole summer as the number of bollockings we got seemed to multiply.
That's me for this week folks. Who knows why I decided to embark on a Hamsa project at this time - maybe in my subconscious, I'm a believer and I'm out to fight the Corona virus with my protective amulet. I suppose it can't do any harm, much like sucking on a lemon or eating loads of avocados, which are some of the remedies being bandied about by people I've spoken to. I am, I hasten to add, not a believer, but it is a pretty symbol and will be a lot of fun to make - I have been meaning to make one for a while now. Onwards and upwards I go!
Have a great week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Good day, lovely people, thanks for coming back for a quick look at the goings on at Caprilicious. I hope you are all well and 'staying alert' if you are in the UK - although exactly what that means, nobody can tell me.
If you're lucky enough to be able to work from home and aren't a manual worker who has to go in to work while avoiding public transport to get there, you're winning already. I feel sorry for the labourers who have to hoick their Daimlers out of their garages so that they don't have to take a bus, it will be so hard to find parking spaces in places like London! Unbelievable advice from our leaders, and if we didn't laugh, we'd be in floods of tears!
As you know no doubt from last weeks blog post, I've been making a necklace for a project on Facebook - the Creative Hope Jewelry Project Challenge and Virtual Exhibit. They are looking for jewellery that will 'express feelings, thoughts, and hopes during the Coronavirus, with unique and diverse design styles and techniques'. They will have a community vote between the 1-5th of June and a virtual exhibition from the 25th. The jewellery submitted must display a 'High degree of hope within the piece' and I thought about this for a long time. I wanted to use one of my Vintaj art nouveau components and it struck me that spring is the season of hope - after all, spirits lift as the days grow longer, warmer and the countryside gets greener and wildflowers bloom in the meadows. That then was my 'Aha!!' moment, and I set to work on my beaded magnum opus.
So, where was I at the end of last week? I'd almost finished the piece, apart from the backing and edging after which I had to hang it, so that it sat comfortably around the neck. I'd already had someone wondering out loud how it was going to drape/sit as it appeared to be extremely heavy. I have to say that in actual fact it isn't heavy - after all it is made of a handful of glass seed beads - it is when 'stones' are involved that the weight increases exponentially. This is a true mixed media piece - it has blue resin roses, a pink polymer clay rose I had left over from another long finished project, various shapes and sizes of glass and quartz beads, a pewter Vintaj component, and eventually, will have hand carved fluorite flower beads at the back.
The wildflower meadow was inspired by the work of E Sorensen on Pinterest- she made a number of collar necklaces in this style and on delving further so have a number of other people. I came up with the rest of the concept myself but I’m sure all of them have been made by someone, somewhere and I apologise for not crediting my other influencers- it’s only because they were subliminal - after all there’s no such thing as an original thought, but it’s only polite to acknowledge a direct influence.
Spring provides a bridge from the barren darkness of winter to the brightness of summer. Gradually increasing light and warmth bring the promise of good times yet to come and seem to console us for the harsh winter recently endured, giving us a glimpse of what nature promises us in a short while.
The softening earth invites us to plant seeds and the fields come alive and remind us of the greener tapestry to come. Buds adorn the trees and bushes, with the promise of an even lusher backdrop. Wildflowers bloom in the meadows bringing colour to the landscape and spring flowers blossom - the air is laden with the lush, heady promise of good things, soon to be within our reach.
True hope is never passive; it is always ready for "spring-time".
The heroine of my piece 'Hope Springs Eternal' is sitting (lolling ?) under a wisteria in a wildflower meadow, with the patchwork of green fields to one side. She waits for summer, and perhaps the return of her lover who promised to come back to her in more clement weather. Who knows what they will get up to in the beautiful wildflower meadow?
Here are some pictures of Hope Springs Eternal for you.
I even wore it to a meeting on Zoom and though it's not the best picture, I felt it was worth posting it as proof positive that it works when worn live and not just on a dummy!
That's me for this week, folks. Take care of yourselves, stay alert and don't use public transport if you can, dust off those Daimlers and Bentleys and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello good people, I hope you're all healthy and happy - and virus free. People everywhere are getting antsy and itching to get back to work - 'the economy' are words being bandied about by people who previously wouldn't have given a hoot, completely forgetting that the economy is only worth something to you if you are alive and well.
Here in the UK we will find out what plans are being made for us by the end of the week, but I personally will continue social distancing for a while yet - there will be no travel plans, parties or concerts for the foreseeable, even though I'd kill for a good knees up at the moment. There's only that much Netflixing one can do.
In the meantime, I've been plugging away at my wildflower spring meadow, the one I showed you last week. I love the idea of painting with beads, but am finding that my canvas is a bit small. I'd have been happier with a huge, life sized painting, with sweeping broad brush strokes, but I have to remember that I'm not a painter and am attempting to make a piece of jewellery that is not only pretty, but also wearable. Everything has to be in miniature and a bit more impressionistic than I enjoy.
I looked at loads of paintings of wisteria blossoms and then decided to go for it with the new purple and pink beads I had received in the post.
Before putting in the wisteria I had to decide how large the tree would be and whether there ought to be even more 'meadow' beyond the tree. By now, I'd had enough of sewing in beads to make the wildflower meadow effect, so thought I'd try to sketch in a patchwork of fields - it rapidly occurred to me that my heroine was rapidly turning into Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
I blocked in the stems of the wisteria, all gnarled and twisted and added the fields. I was still looking for the best way to make my wisteria blossoms and while doing this I came across a website/blog called Drawing with Beads by Patricia Parker. I was extremely impressed by this lady's body of work, although her flowers are very realistic and her jewellery is huge. If I'm saying that, it has to be true, as the jewellery I make is thought to be rather large and intimidating by some - but I do make statement jewellery, so I shan't apologise!
And now for the wisteria itself - I love those flowers and have attempted to grow a plant a couple of times, but failed miserably, mainly because I do not have a sunny enough spot in my garden for this beauty.
And this is basically it, folks. There isn't space for another bead in this necklace, and apart from when I finish off the edges. Once I devise a means to hold it around the neck, I am done. I shall have it all ready to display for the blog next weekend. There's plenty to look at, with loads of colour and texture in this piece and it is a fun piece of jewellery.
Before I wrap up, do take a look at a couple of my other earlier attempts to produce a wisteria in jewellery form (as I said, I do love that plant). I found these pictures by typing 'wisteria' in the search box and these came up on earlier blog posts, although the pieces themselves have long since moved on to their forever homes, and I hope are well loved. I do like the fact that this blog serves as a record of my work, and also to remind me how far I've come as the years have rolled by.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, stay safe and I'll catch up with you again next Friday, same time, same place. The picture in this section was posted by a friend of mine and I make no apologies for ending on this sobering thought. Please stay safe and take care of yourselves.
Hello folks, thanks for joining me again today. This is a week where we have some good news - the pandemic appears to be slowing down, the numbers of people admitted to our hospital have fallen as have admissions to ITU. We are preparing to return to quasi normal although I don't think normality will be achieved for a long time yet. It pained me a great deal to watch the Panorama investigation by the BBC about the inability to supply us with the correct equipment. PPE is the story worldwide, and many countries have been caught with their trousers around their ankles. I am not usually a tearful person, but yet, this is my tribe and I'm not ashamed to say that I was in tears at the end of the programme. If you haven't watched it, do click on the link above which should take you to the BBC iplayer. You will have to sign in or register, but if you can't get through, perhaps you'd like to read the gist of the story here.
I've been playing in the garden which has started to wake up, as have the weeds, unfortunately. Perhaps it is this that has inspired my next piece of jewellery - I am taking my time over it as is extremely intricate with hundreds of beads sewn into a small, tight space. As I told you earlier, I am using up all my old stock of beads, cabochons and brass Vintaj focals - there has been a tendency to buy more and more and stash everything away to keep the house tidy and I am shocked at how much I have, stashed away in various drawers. I decided that no more buying shall happen and that I would put my foot down with a firm hand - and then went and bought some seed beads in a colour I didn't have that were absolutely necessary for this next piece - sigh! Addict or what!! At least it was only a couple of quids worth, rather than loads and loads.
Last week was International Jazz Week and to commemorate this I bring you a trio from Bangalore, India - Sandra Oberoi and her daughters Tiara and Tiana - can't get more international than that! I went to school with Sandras mother, Shirley and it is wonderful to hear the next two generations make such beautiful music together. Sandra teaches music in her own school, Harmony, in Bangalore and she sand for us at our school reunion earlier on in the year.
I picked out an art nouveau Vintaj piece from the stash this time, made in the style of Mucha's illustrations. The woman in the piece appears to be sitting in a windswept garden, surrounded by flowers - clearly she wasn't schooled by nuns or she'd have gotten a beating for sitting so wantonly with her knees visible to the world. 'Sit like a lady' they'd have said - but this hussy obviously doesn't care. Is there a stream by her feet? Is she waiting for her lover? Or perhaps she's just having a Bollywood heroine moment where she's singing to a long lost lover. I'm not sure what is going on with this lady but she looks like she's having a chilled out time. I took a couple of days to decide what to do with her, and decided to sit her in a wildflower garden, under a wisteria. The shape of the necklace needed to be finalised - after the last piece, I didn't fancy tacking on extra pieces of Stiff Stuff, such a bloomin' nuisance.
As hubby and I are now distancing from one another, we have moved out of the little TV nook into the main living room and I'm trying to keep the area generally tidy. Unfortunately this piece required me to dig out every colour of flower shaped bead I possess and others as fillers and I now have a precariously piled up table that Mike has kindly placed by my chair. I've already had an accident and spilled a box of blue beads. Wilfred enjoyed batting them around the room with his paws and it took an hour to pick them up.
By the end of Day one, I had the piece cut out, our heroine was sat to one side of it and I had started on the wildflower meadow - I used up blue roses I bought when I was in the USA a number of years ago from Michael's - whoever heard of blue roses? - they must be wildflowers, right? Or at least a figment of someone's wild imagination!
I hadn't decided whether I liked it yet, but decided to plough on - I could always cut the piece up if I hated it, but by the end of Day two, it was beginning to look like it was travelling towards where I wanted it to go.
And by the end of Day four, I had covered the meadow with flowers. I have yet to add grass between all the flowers and then begin on the Wisteria. I've been spending considerable time before I fall asleep in my lonely bed (sob!) planning this plant - the trunk, the flowers and leaves and hopefully will come up with a credible interpretation. There's plenty of time to plan this for at least another day or two while I finish the meadow.
These work-in-progress pictures were all taken using my phone and I apologise for their quality. I shall of course take my good camera out for the finished piece.
Spring blooms symbolise hope as the cold dark days of winter transform in the bright spring sun. Wildflowers come out first - violets, primulas, cornflowers, anemones, poppies, daisies and dandelions flourish in meadows symbolising the hope of good things to come. I looked for these colours and added them into my 'painting' lavishly - as well as the blue roses; but please, don't be too picky, let's call it artistic licence and just go with the flow. We can all do with a good dose of Hope just now, right?
That's me for this week, folks. Stay indoors, take care and be safe. Have a good week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you this week? Here we are again, whether we are working from home, social distancing, or in a physical workplace, life is strange, with an invisible menace hanging over our heads and no sign of any escape for the foreseeable - it can't be easy on any of us. And yet, live through it we will - and if we make it to the other side, you're all invited to the mother of all parties at my place. I really feel the need for a good knees up now.
The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people - some have been true heroes, plugging away at their jobs, taking care of their fellow human beings and being excellent colleagues, friends and neighbours. Others have protected themselves, reduced to a gibbering wreck, unable or unwilling to risk their lives, but happy to allow their colleagues to bear the brunt of it. Testing has been slow in coming, and people who have been inclined to chuck a sickie have had it easy.
While I'm anxious, I feel the need to occupy myself, and at work we have a camaraderie where we truly believe that we're all in it together - so much better than staring at my phone or the TV constantly, watching members of the political class tell us downright lies about the state of play in the country.
Last week I told you about the Seascape I was in the process of making, and little by little I managed to get it finished this week. This week I watched Breaking Bad on Netflix as I sewed my fingers to the bone. We only started on this series because of Bryan Cranston, we had seen and loved him as Trumbo, but now, two seasons of Breaking Bad down the line, we're totally hooked.
I added four little extension components along either side of the main pendant by embroidering around crystal teardrop components, and handmade a chain to hold the piece together.
It is very satisfying to make a necklace where all the elements are handmade by me and it isn't a mere assemblage of various bits and pieces made by someone else, or even worse, designed by me and made by someone else in a workshop. It really gives me a warm glow when I have the final piece all done and ready to wear.
Seahorses are beautiful creatures - however, though they look like pretty ballet dancers, they are actually vicious predators. They eat Copepods, a type of small, fast moving crustacean, which can’t see and rely on a sensitivity to the disturbances that signal predators approaching. The shape of the seahorses head is heavy, and creates a zone with very little disturbance, which allows them to get really close to these very sensitive, highly evasive Copepods. They are then able to pivot their heads while opening their mouths and swallow the poor crustaceans that stand no chance against the wily seahorse that is even faster on it's tootsies (tootsy?) than the Copepods.
So here's my ode to the Seahorse - it is called Pirouette because the seahorse appears to be swivelling en pointe and I've attempted to swirl the 'water' around the seahorse to signify the mini whirlpools caused by the pivot effect caused by the movement of the seahorses head.
The shibori ribbon 'waves' and the cone shaped tubes of beads that signify eddying water are padded out with felt to ensure that they stand proud, giving it an extra dimension, as is the back of the piece.
That's me for this week, folks. I have the weekend off and it sounds like it will be sunny, so a lot of gardening will get done, although I hate this season where all the weeds that seed themselves over autumn and winter have to be dug up and cleared away. Weeding is not my favourite occupation, it's too much like hard work.
Take care of yourselves, stay safe and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place,
Hello folks, nice to catch up with you today after a hectic week at work. I've been learning to do telephonic consultations and it is no mean feat in gynaecology, I can tell you. I've just found out that 'velfies' (go figure) are a thing, but not as good as a face to face (?) appointment. My poor pregnant patients are, of course having to come in alone, sans partners and moral support in what must be an incredibly anxious time and we are having to deal with them in the hospital, wearing surgical masks. Now that the lockdown is set to continue for three more weeks, we have to be doubly careful not to become complacent and risk catching the lurgy - and that goes for all of you too. All around us, nature has begun to bloom again - the picture is of the crab apple tree on the front of our house and the May Blossom across the street.
Strange birds have been seen in our quiet street - my neighbour sent me these pictures of a bird that visited our gardens this morning - it is a cock pheasant, probably bred for being shot at by wealthy landowners - yes we do have a few around here who practice these incredibly nasty sports (that's my view). Mike said the bird had come to the porch on the front of the house yesterday as well, and Wilfred caught sight of him and let out a roar, the likes of which he hadn't heard before. I was asleep when these pictures were taken and forwarded to me by my lovely neighbour, Michelle. I hope he can fly before Wilfred catches him - he does look a bit ungainly - or he will soon be an ex bird. Just now the warm weather is making Wilfred sleepy, so Mr Pheasant has been lucky, thus far.
I was on call on Easter Monday and made up parcels with little earrings and bracelets for all the ladies at work over the Bank Holiday. There were some for the midwives, Health Care Support workers, and domestics on labour suite and the ward. I spent the Easter weekend making a few new wire work pendants from the designs that Nicole Hanna gives away free on the first Tuesday of each month in a Treasure Hunt. She is incredibly generous to do this, and it also drives visitors to her page just when they are feeling a bit flush. These pendants are tiny, and by the time I made five of them my hands hurt with repetitive strain injury from moving wire around in tiny circles and swirls.
I've been thinking about what I should do during my evenings while the lockdown carries on - no one's going anywhere, so no one wants to spend money on jewellery. Besides, we will soon be in an official recession, so there's not much point in making a load of jewellery and filling up my box which is satisfyingly low on stock after my visit to India.
I decided to pull out all the tutorials bought earlier which I haven't used, and try them out. I shall also pick up focal pieces which I didn't know what to do with, and figure out a design for them. Last week, I had Calypso on the blog, made with one such piece, and this week I picked out a Vintaj brass seascape with a seahorse and a fish. I do love seahorses, they are to me the unicorns of the sea, except that they are real creatures. I found a picture of a seascape I made in 2012 that I called The Octopuses Garden - My mother gave me a pair of her clip on enamel and marcasite seahorse earrings and I incorporated one of them into this piece, and the other one went into a mermaid pendant.
Most of the Vintaj pieces I bought are of art nouveau women, but for some reason Calypso and the seahorse caught my attention and they have sat in my stash for years. This, now, is the time to use it, I decided. Shibori ribbon provided me with a 'sea', and a couple of Swarovski crystals for added interest as well as diamante cup chain for bling.
This is what it looked like at the end of the second day. However, on day three, I decided I needed to make it even more substantial, so tacked on some more of Lacy's stiff stuff and then began to add felt padding and seed beads to the piece.
Through all of this, we've been binge watching 'Ozark' on Netflix - it is all about the travails of a money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel and is an excellent drama. We still have all of Season 3 to go and I've no doubt the series will take me to the end of this seascape. All the areas that I have padded out with pieces of felt will be raised up from the piece and give it a three dimensional effect. Do come back next week and take a look at how I'm getting on.
I do hope all of you are being careful and distancing yourselves - unlike the hundreds of idiots who came out onto Westminster Bridge in a throng to clap for the NHS at 8pm last night - we thank you all very much but would much prefer it if you stayed indoors or at the very least distanced yourselves from other people. That does help, and will help to keep us safe, which is all the thanks we need really, for doing our jobs. After all, who wants to be a lauded, but dead hero?
Take care and have a nice week. I'm on call this weekend and bracing myself for what may come at me. All being well, I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Hello folks, I hope you're all fit and well, staying home and isolating yourselves. The lockdown seems set to continue indefinitely and we have to all buckle down and follow the rules. I think the worst thing is the uncertainty - one knows how or when it will end and indeed, if we should accept that it is over when we're told it is - this is a bit like a nightmare that never seems to end, the gift that keeps on giving! In the meantime, people who work with me keep their spirits up by making cakes and little gifts for one another and basically plodding on.
At least now we all have our PPE - I was 'fit tested' for a snazzy face mask that fits with a rubber seal around my nose and mouth. It is incredibly hot behind it - like a mini nasal/ oral sauna, but if it's going to keep me virus free, I'll take it. Besides it does have a silver lining: because it doesn't lie flat across my face, it spares my lipstick, so when I take it off, the lower half of my face looks as if it's been well cooked - but my lipstick is intact! What price vanity?? One of the midwives took these before and after photographs in my office - I provided her with a bit of humour for the day.
I've been coming home every day, showering and getting rid of the tensions of the day and then sitting down in front of the TV with my beads. I really don't know how I'd have managed without Caprilicious and Netflix/ Amazon Prime.
The garden is just waking up and there is still a nip in the air. I have really felt the need for flowers and have kept my vases full. I also decided to sew an enchanted garden full of tropical flowers for the woman in my pendant. If you've read my blog last week, you'll know that I've been making a joyful pendant of an Afro Caribbean woman I named Calypso, using a technique called 'painting with beads'. I decided to give Calypso a garden of her own to dance in with exotic flowers of carnelian and jade, in a riot of colour, crystals and beads. And of course she has snaky locks of hair, a fabulous turban of Shibori silk and a full, swaying skirt - depicted in the beautiful colourful tassels, tipped by Czech dagger beads. In my imagination, she comes out of her home in the early morning, and dances barefoot through this beautiful tropical garden to the beach, where the man she loves is waiting for her.
The fun part of making these pieces is in the designing of it, and the sewing on of the beads. Once that is done, the hard part begins - or the boring bit, where the embroidery has to be padded out with felt, backed with ultrasuede and then edged with another layer of beads. However, at the end, it is always gratifying to see how much a little picot edge finishes the piece off elegantly and then, of course, I like the back of the piece to be as neat and tidy as the front. I'm hoping that these statement pieces will stand the test of time and who knows, someone will bring them out on an Antiques Roadshow many years from now, well after my time. Wouldn't it be fabulous if the 'expert' turns it over and the back looks as nice as the front?
That's me for this week, folks. Take care of yourselves - and you know the drill now - stay home and stay safe. Also, wash those hands, especially after you've handled those packages that are no doubt making their way to your door via mail and courier etc - you don't know where they've been, or who's been handling them.
Have a good week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, how are you today? I'm betting that by now you're all going a bit stir crazy and long to go back to the office - every day's a duvet day and you wish it would all end! Well, settle down for the long haul, as this isn't going away anytime soon, unfortunately.
I'm sure you've all made adjustments to the way you live and work - I have an extremely uneasy situation where I work in the hospital on the 'front line', so to speak, and hubby is in a vulnerable group. For the first time in our married life, we've had to sleep in separate bedrooms, have moved our chairs two metres apart so that we can watch TV together, and have finished Amazon Prime video, so have had to take a Netflix sub out, just for something to do. One would have thought that there would be more to watch on the TV, even if it were repeats, but no, same old, same old!
Poor hubby was isolated well before the government said we should do it as I knew what was coming, and he keeps himself occupied by doing the housework and gardening as well as all the other stuff that needs doing - all I've taken on is the weekly shop.
Mike gets all dressed up in his suit and tie (he says he needs someplace to dress up to go to and the supermarket car park is all he's going to get for now) and drives me to the supermarket - my very own personal chauffeur. He sits in the car listening to Jazz FM, while I whiz round, loads the shopping into the boot and returns the trolley for me.
No more planned menus in my kitchen, as the ingredients are usually randomly available, so our meals are all Tuna Surprise! (the surprise was chunks of leftover sausage - sound terrible? - actually quite nice, although I wouldn't/probably couldn't do it again) and Hawaiian medley (ham and a can of pineapple chunks from the store cupboard) - whatever comes to hand, and can be jazzed up to make it taste palatable. NHS worker or not, I'm not standing in a queue at 7am to beat a bunch of OAPs to the last loaf of bread.
My daily dose of 'fun' has been sorting out my craft supplies and beads and I've found stuff that I never knew I had. The kind of stuff I bought because it was on sale, or was pretty and although I didn't know what to do with it just then, I was sure that one day, inspiration would strike. One of these was a brass charm from Vintaj which came to me in a large parcel from a store in the USA. At the time when I bought it, wire wrapping would have been my preferred way to use this little brass face but now I decided to use it in a bead embroidered pendant.
I made perforations at four points of the brass face and stitched her onto a piece of Lacy's Stiff Stuff, having wrapped a piece of Shibori ribbon around her head in a colourful turban. I wasn't sure whether she was going to be Chinese or Afro Caribbean, but once the turban was on her head, she was definitely from the latter ethnic group.
Once this decision was made, she needed long snaky locks, perhaps even dreadlocks, even longer than in the original piece and I wanted them to strand proud of the finished pendant, so I sewed on a stuffing of felt, where I thought the braids should be. I padded the 'turban' out with pieces of felt as well so that it would maintain the puffed out look forever.
The hair took a while as I wasn't satisfied with the original look, and had to cut out all the beads I'd sewn in all evening and sew them on again. She got a pretty dress in orange with blue polka dots - bright and sunny as a woman from a Caribbean island would wear.
Then it was time to put in the background - my preferred teacher for this technique is Kinga Nichols, using a technique she calls 'painting with beads'. Indeed, with some of the pieces I've made using this technique, people have asked me whether I've stuck the beads on! I've had to explain how I've stitched on each bead individually with two passes of the thread to ensure stability and strength, and of course I get so carried away that I can see their eyes glaze over by the time I'm done - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner has nothing on me when I'm in full flow about my passion!
And here she is, in all her glory - Calypso! She still has to be backed and edged, and I think a colourful fringe is in order to emphasise her exuberance.
I'm going to take my time over this one and consequently this may be one of the most work intensive pieces of jewellery I've ever made, but she will be beautiful, I'm sure of that.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a quiet week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place. Until then, stay at home, and wash those hands.
Take care, stay safe,